Dozens of New Jerseyans die each year in residential house fires.

Given more time spent at home because of the COVID-19 health crisis, and the cooling weather, fire officials in the Garden State say it's more important than ever to make sure your home is fire-safe.

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To kick off Fire Prevention Week, which runs through Saturday, the state Division of Fire Safety and the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board hosted a side-by-side burn trailer demonstration in Morristown, showing how quickly a fire can spread in a room that's not equipped with a sprinkler.

"When a fire breaks you may only three to five minutes to escape," said NJFSAB Executive Director David Kurasz.

Kurasz said one's time to escape used to be 15 or more minutes. But the way homes are built today, and the furnishings used, fires "flash over" much more quickly.

"It's not an explosion, but the fire starts rolling very quickly," Kurasz said. "Very deadly — that's when the gases are everywhere in the air."

New Jersey does not currently require that sprinklers be installed in new residential developments, but according to officials, fire sprinklers installed in homes can reduce the risk of dying by 80%, and reduce property loss by 70%.

According to the Division of Fire Safety, 77% of all civilian fire fatalities occurred in residential properties, representing 59 deaths, in 2015. Nearly 80% of all structure fires in the state involved residential properties.

"If you do see a fire in your house, we want you to run out and stay out immediately, call 911, get the fire department rolling as quickly as possible," Kurasz said.

For this year's Fire Prevention Week, the National Fire Protection Association is specifically focusing its education campaign on dangers in the kitchen. Cooking is the top cause of home fires and home fire injuries.

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